Polygamist family tries to cast practice in a more normal light

Polygamist family tries to cast practice in a more normal light
The Alldredge family consists of Jeff, his first wife Vanessa, right, his second wife Sharis, left, and seven children. (Source: KOTA)

RAPID CITY, SD (KOTA/Gray News) - Polygamy is illegal in all 50 states, but for three people in South Dakota, the law is not standing in their way.

A family from Hot Springs, about an hour south of Rapid City, is trying to break what they call the misconceptions that come with polygamy.

The Alldredges star on the TLC show "Seeking Sister Wife."

Sharis Alldredge, who came into the family as Jeff Aldredge’s second wife, said people are usually shocked to find them living regular lives.

"Oh my gosh! They're so normal. I didn't expect polygamists to be just like normal people,” she said is the reaction they typically get.

The Alldredges consist of Jeff, his first wife, Vanessa Alldredge, Sharis and seven children between them.

Jeff Alldredge said he pursued polygamy because it offered him a more vibrant family life.

"I believe that polygamy affords a family a lot of opportunities that a monogamous life doesn't,” he said.

Sharis said she herself was actually raised in a polygamous family.

"I grew up in a polygamist family and I have two wonderful moms and it was so beneficial for me, especially during my teen years, to have two people that I could go to and bounce ideas off of,” she said.

Vanessa said polygamy has a stabilizing effect for her.

"Because there's three of us, if one of us is down, there's the other two who can step in and keep the family going and support the children,” she said.

Jeff said he tries to divide his time evenly between all his children and both his wives, alternating nights he spends with each woman.

Both women said they had their own ways for dealing with or moving past feelings of jealousy.

"Jealousy is a normal feeling to feel, but it's something that I recognize that Sharis is a part of my family and instead of having the difficult feelings towards her and anger or jealousy, I just try to recognize that she's my friend and that I want the best for her, too,” Vanessa said.

Sharis said tries to “avoid that feeling” and tries to approach “each situation as it comes up and work my way through it without feeling jealous.”

Seeking Sister Wife is in its second season, and the trio said it's given them a chance to show everyone what a polygamist family is truly like.

"Doing the show has been a little bit of an adjustment because it's new to us, but overall I think it's been a great opportunity,” Jeff said.

Vanessa said the family has gotten “a lot of good feedback” and “positivity.”

“We try to show that our family is a normal, happy, healthy family and it's been a good thing for us,” she said.

Jeff is now looking for a third wife.

Sharis and Vanessa said integrating a new woman may take a while, but once they find the right fit, it would be another welcome dimension to their family.

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